Will the Indians be active at the winter meetings that begin Monday and run through Thursday in Nashville?
In the past several years, the Tribe has failed to make much of an impact at professional baseball’s annual convention. While other clubs consummated trades and signed free agents, the front office crew from Cleveland was relegated to watching the world pass by from the box seats.
But they still hold a place at the table for General Manager Chris Antonetti and his staff, so maybe this will be the year the Indians get in on the action. More often than not, money — or the lack thereof — has been the stumbling block.
“We’re still working through that,” Antonetti said Saturday when asked what kind of budget the club has to work with. “It is not a finite amount, but we do have some flexibility. We have extended some offers to free agents, and we can make some commitments.”
Antonetti did not reveal to whom he has made offers, but it’s no secret his first priority is finding at least one quality starter plus an outfielder, first baseman and designated hitter.
Can he accomplish all of that, not only during the meetings but through the remainder of the offseason? It will be difficult.
Last year, the Tribe spent about $65.5 million on player salaries. Commitments to players already under contract or under the team’s control will add up to about $31 million for 2013.
That would seem to leave Antonetti with plenty of cash if ownership doesn’t cut the budget. But eight players are arbitration eligible. At least three — Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson — are in line for large raises. So because of the threat of arbitration, you can figure that salaries for the fortunate eight will increase by as much as $10 million.
Theoretically, that still leaves $20 million to spend on new players, acquired in trade or through free agency. Will Antonetti actually have that much to work with? Only time will tell.
“I can’t tell you what will happen [at the meetings],” he said. “But we’ve been exceptionally busy the last few weeks.”
In other matters:
• Corey Kluber’s knee surgery is not expected to keep him from contending for the rotation.
“We’re still working through his timetable, but we still think he can compete for a spot and be ready by Opening Day,” Antonetti said.
• Antonetti said the three players who were nontendered Friday — Jack Hannahan, Rafael Perez and Chris Seddon — aren’t necessarily gone forever. Antonetti said he has some interest in bringing all three back at the right price.
• Reliever Blake Wood, who signed a one-year deal for $560,000 last week, should be ready to pitch relatively early in the season after undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery last May.
“We think he can pitch by the end of May or early June,” Antonetti said.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.